scientific grants and manuscripts

I’m thinking of using Scrivener for a scientific (NIH) grant application. I realize I will need to export to RTF or Word, then cut and paste the text into the NIH supplied Word document/forms; but I would have to do so even if I begin in Word, as I find the forms a bit clunky.

Has anyone had success (or problems) using Scrivener for grant applications?

I just completed work on a science manuscript using Scrivener. I don’t see any problems using it for a research grant and some advantages. However, grant deadlines can be stressful and it is not a good time to be learning a new program. I would advise you to practice on something less important or to leave yourself plenty of time to fiddle with it.

An advantage of Scrivener is that you can import your data, figures, research articles and other bits of useful information as PDFs or other files into the Research section, where you can consult them while writing, using the split screen. (I see this as very useful for writing a grant, where I use lots of scattered information. ) You can drag and drop JPEGs too in the Research Folder and resize them conveniently in the split window. The bulletin board view is also a nice way to look at multiple figures. I could also copy and paste data from an Excel spreadsheet into a text file in the research section and so could look at raw data.

I composed a paper draft using the various subheadings of the introduction, results, materials and methods, and discussion as separate units. I merged them (after some rearrangements) and exported everything using the RTF export back into MS Word. I actually started the manuscript in MS Word and performed both an import from and export back to Word.

Other features that are useful: I used the Notes section to alert myself what other references need to be consulted or what data needed to be generated. The synopsis text I used to outline the idea or logic of each subsection. It is especially easy to reorder the sections using the bulletin board and see how the text reads in different orders. (This is even more of a problem in writing a grant.)

Here’s some problems:
formatting. I’m a geneticist and genes in my organism are indicated in italics. These get converted to underlines and I had to painstakingly find and replace them all (several hundred) in Word. Leave this kind of formatting for the final draft. Ditto for greek letters and other symbols.

References: I use Endnote and imported from Microsoft Word with some references already inserted in the program. It works fine to unformat these in Word–they end up in this format {Author, Date, Record#} before import. Scrivener doesn’t bother them, and then you can reformat the bibliography upon export to MS Word. I just used a placeholder (Name and data in parens) for each reference I inserted while I was composing in Scrivener, to be replaced by hand back in MS Word with Endnote. I tend to do this anyway with Endnote–waiting until the final drafts to insert the references–since the formatting slows down Word and can be buggy.

By the way, another very useful program for scientists is Papers, a database to organize and display PDFs. I import an Endnote file into Papers, link them to the PDFs by using PubMed seaches. The linked PDF can be dragged and dropped into the research folder of Scrivener. Papers has a full screen view that makes PDFs readable onscreen, a feature that would be nice in Scrivener.

Good luck. I think it’s a useful tool for science writers, especially for larger projects like grants.

Just a minor tip: in Word, you can make a global Find/Replace that will convert all underlined text into italics, or vice-versa. In Word Help, see the topics “Select all text with the same formatting” and “Find and replace formatting.” It’s a bit tricky to set up, but it makes the conversion quickly.

Eek! I hope you didn’t do that! You could just have unchecked “Convert italics to underlines” in the Export Draft Formatting sheet before exporting to Word! Scrivener would never force you to have italics converted to underlines. It’s just that the default export set up is for a standard novel manuscript export.



have you turned “Instant formatting” off? It is cleverly hidden in the “format bibliography” dialog. Maybe lowering the update frequency will do.
Try also dragndrop from the EN library.


I have been using Scrivener for the past few months to write scientific (biomedical) grant proposals and scientific papers. The outliner works a charm for capturing the headings of the various sections of the proposal: abstract, introduction, preliminary data, materials & methods, etc, etc. I have then been using Word/Mellel/Bean,etc to put in the final formatting once I have exported the compiled draft.
Together with Bookends, it has been superbly easy and pleasurable to put in references (command-shift Y from Scrivener to get into Bookends, select the reference I want and then command-Y to go straight back to Scrivener where it puts in the reference for me … ready to get straight back to the writing). Fantastic stuff Keith. The highlighter and annotate tools have also been very useful to keep track of things I need to check on eg: source of reagents, a reference I need to follow up, etc, etc.

Just had my first Scrivener-mediated grant proposal accepted and funded. Huzzah!

Off now to the lab to push back some scientific frontiers …

Would anyone have any example files, where Scrivener was used with MultiMarkdown for journal article and grant formatting? Thanks!

I would be interested in hearing about these as well… My “real” job is as a hospitalist in a PC-centric academic center with a growing mac segment. I’m always interested in ways to push Mac’s, and if it involves science, Scrivener, and MMD — even better!